Vanguard was able to stand out in 2009 despite -- or perhaps because of -- a difficult market environment.

In 2009, the Malvern, Pa., fund giant significantly increased its assets under management by 30%, or $93 billion; introduced equity products outside its traditional index sphere; and expanded distribution internationally, according to William McNabb, the company's newly appointed chairman, who still retains the titles of president and chief executive officer.

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